Lucifer – Lucifer I


Gaz Jennings fancies his Occult Doom at present. Last year’s largely well-received Death Penalty project is followed by another female-fronted band of sinistras, this time headed by former vocalist of The Oath, Johanna Sadonis. Initially Lucifer I (Rise Above) sounds as if Black Sabbath have gone more up-tempo, and recruited Agnetha Faltskog to the mic, though with eerie harmonies flying through the dancing, patchouli-scented riffs of opener ‘Abracadabra’, the feel of ‘Goat Doom’ is still here if not quite the density.

There’s a curious tone to Sadonis’ voice, often laconically delivered yet soaring then swooping with a powerful, aching beauty. The brief harmonising in ‘Purple Pyramid’ is delicious, the odd sparse area lit up by The Wizards’ (Jennings’ pseudonym here) growling riffs and those siren-like pipes. Lighter moments may divide opinion, tripping close to a Folk-rock feel not unlike some of Cathedral’s stuff, yet they display welcome variation; the oft-faster than expected pace lifting the mood despite the plaintive voice and subject matter.

‘Sabbath’ finally, and rather aptly, shows us some serious weight, the thus-far barrelling journey slowed, that voice piercing the leaden, eastern-tinged riffs with a pleading agony. Whilst it’s easy to point out Sadonis as the star of the show, Jennings’ mastery of his instrument is supreme yet so subtle it’s almost unnoticed, taking each track to different characters of a story. This is reined in and directed superbly by Andrew Prestridge’s stunning drums: the bare minimum of flourish, just perfect inclusion and timing. All the ingredients fit together perfectly with the effortless switches and dual leads of the drugged-out pain in ‘Morning Star’: whilst the wonderful ‘Total Eclipse’ and ‘A Grave for Each One of Us’ flick from dreamy seduction to a rampant, roaring pummel and back in an instant, Dino Gollnick’s squirming bass underpinning Sadonis’ honeyed notes and coating some feverish riffs.

Full of more beauty, urgency and omen than Death Penalty could muster in one track, with a perfect blend of depth and air, this is a great first listen and improves with each successive experience. Wicked, in the original meaning of the term.



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Introducing… LUCIFER


2014 saw the spectacular rise and burning fall of The Oath, a critically acclaimed (oc)cult NWOBHM / retro act, with the duo going their separate ways almost as soon as their self-titled debut (Rise Above) was released. A year on and Johanna Sadonis (vocals) is speaking to Ghost Cult from her home town of Berlin about the launch of Lucifer, her new phoenix from the flames, and their debut album, Lucifer I (Rise Above).


Lucifer’s debut album Lucifer I, is out less than a year after The Oath separated. Were these ideas you had in mind for a second Oath album?

“No, I just had a lot of ideas and a lot of energy, so when The Oath disbanded and died I was sitting there with empty hands. I thought about everything I had planned for The Oath and thought, no, I’m going to take this energy and channel it right away instead of being frustrated about it. It took me a few weeks to leave one thing behind and decide to go on. The ideas weren’t there before. If The Oath hadn’t disbanded, that would have been my band, and not with these ideas.”

“It wasn’t my choice for things to happen this way, but it turned out, in the end, to be a really good thing for me. As much as I loved The Oath, Lucifer has come even more so to be my thing, so now I’m even more passionate about Lucifer.”

You turned to Gaz Jennings (Cathedral/Death Penalty) as a writing partner…

“I’d been in contact with Lee (Dorrian – former Cathedral frontman and Rise Above head honcho) all during The Oath falling apart, and he was someone I was seeking out to speak to – and he said “Hey, why don’t you ask Gaz, because he really likes The Oath”. Garry’s crazy, he plays so much guitar and has so many riffs piling up so I asked, and he said yes straight away.”

“I love Cathedral. I saw them for first time over 20 years ago, when I was 15, so we started writing and I gave him ideas for the types of riffs. I gave him certain songs as references, like “How about you make a song that sounds like a ballad from Scorpions In Trance album, or how about a Technical Ecstasy Sabbath kind of song.”

“I gave him suggestions, and he came back with riffs, so we could structure the songs together.”

While there are similarities across the two bands, there seems to be a much stronger 70’s rock bent to Lucifer, less of the NWOBHM influence that was prevalent in The Oath…

“After The Oath split up, I sat down and formed the concept in my head, so it was planned for Lucifer to be different to The Oath.”


“I really loved The Oath for what it was, and there is a common core to the sounds, particularly in terms of the influences; Black Sabbath being the main influence for me, for Garry (Jennings), also Linnea (Olsen – The Oath)’s favourite band.”

“But, the two differ so much in their guitar playing. Linnea, she had a more punky, raw, Motorhead kind of style that fit really well with the NWOBHM thing we were doing with The Oath. Garry’s playing is more complex, heavier on the doom.”

“I didn’t want to repeat The Oath as I felt the best thing in a situation like this is just to do something new.”



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Death Penalty – Sign of Times


There’s plenty of hype surrounding UK / Belgian quartet Death Penalty, the new outfit of former Cathedral multi-instrumentalist Gaz Jennings, and it’s not too hard to see why. While female fronted units with hippo-felling riffs and pounding drums are de rigeur at present, here, the sound is less about the occult and more about heavy blues rock, those rhythms fair flashing along with a seductive groove and some wild, intricate lead play decorating Sign of Times (Rise Above), the title track of this seven-inch release. There are interesting tones and melodies here, not least from the voice of Michelle Nocon, but despite the undoubted power in her voice it’s only on the flip-side ‘Seven Flames’ where she really lets rip and gives us more than two octaves, which is somewhat disappointing especially if compared against other female performances of 2014.

It’s an energetic sound but also a touch dated, coming across as a pub-standard Christian Mistress in parts. This is obviously a taster for the self-titled debut album and as such it’s a decent listen, but one would hope the full-length has more invention to fulfil the promise.


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